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March 2009 Issue

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UC Appoints Clinician-Scientist to Lead Hematology/Oncology, Cancer Program

By Amanda Harper
Published March 2009

The UC College of Medicine has recruited George Atweh, MD, to lead the department of internal medicine’s division of hematology/ oncology and serve as Koch Chair and professor of hematology/oncology.

Atweh will also serve as director of the adult cancer program located in the UC Barrett Cancer Institute at University Hospital, a position that David Stern, MD, vice president for health affairs at UC and dean of the College of Medicine, has filled since 2006 while a national search for a permanent replacement was conducted. Stern will actively continue his role as dean and vice president for health affairs at UC.

Atweh’s appointment was effective March 1, 2009.

The UC Barrett Cancer Institute is part of the Cincinnati Cancer Consortium (formerly the joint cancer program), a collaborative initiative involving the UC College of Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University Hospital.

It brings together interdisciplinary research teams of scientists and health professionals to research and develop new cures, while providing a continuum of care for children, adults and families with cancer.

“Recruiting Dr. Atweh to Cincinnati is a major step forward for the Cincinnati Cancer Consortium and its goal of coordinat ing advanced cancer care and research in the Greater Cincinnati area,” says Stern. “Dr. Atweh is an outstanding investigator, clinician and leader. We are proud to have him join our team.”

“Dr. Atweh is a proven leader and exemplary clinician-scientist who has the experience necessary to build a world-class hematology/ oncology clinical team and create a better, more personalized care experience for our patients,” adds Bradley Britigan, MD, chair of UC’s internal medicine department.

Prior to joining UC, Atweh served in numerous leadership roles at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, including hematology/oncology division chief, interim director of the Tisch Cancer Institute, associate director of the General Clinical Research Center, chair of the appointments and promotions committee and medical director of the cancer clinical trials office.

He completed his medical degree, internship and residency at the American University of Beirut and a hematology/oncology fellowship at Duke University Medical Center. He then did a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Atweh has published more than 65 scientific manuscripts and holds a U.S. patent for globin gene expression vectors, a discovery that has enabled scientists to pursue novel treatments for blood diseases such as sickle cell.

Upon arriving at UC, Atweh says his first priority is to build a more robust hematology/oncology division. His long-term goal is to recruit up to 25 new faculty members who will form multidisciplinary disease-based teams that serve as the foundations of several centers of excellence such as prostate, lung, breast, colorectal and brain cancer.

“To deliver the best possible care to patients in Greater Cincinnati, we must build a more robust team of clinicians and scientists who will work every day to deliver cuttingedge care and advance the field through new and innovative research,” says Atweh.

“I’m also excited about the prospect of working with Cincinnati Children’s and University Hospital through the Cincinnati Cancer Consortium to develop a systematic way of bridging care for our childhood cancer survivors as well.”

Atweh would also like to build stronger relationships with community cancer practices to allow more patients access to innovative treatments and research protocols that are not available outside of an academic medical center.

“We achieved a true balance between real partnership and healthy competition with community physicians during my tenure in New York, and I believe the same model can be successful here in Cincinnati,” he says.
“What’s most important is that we work together to provide the best possible cancer care to the community in the Cincinnati metropolitan region.”

Atweh specializes in the treatment of sickle cell and blood cancers. His research focuses on the molecular basis of human blood diseases, including currently funded research projects investigating the molecular basis of human acute leukemia, the regulation of different members of the human globin gene family in health and in disease, and the development of new targeted therapies for leukemia and prostate cancer.

He is expected to begin seeing patients at the Barrett Cancer Institute and other UC Physicians practices sites in late 2009; however, his initial time at UC will be dedicated to building the hematology/ oncology clinical practice.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Atweh to the UC Barrett Cancer Institute,” adds Lee Ann Liska, chief executive officer of University Hospital.

“His appointment will solidify the faculty group that provides care to our patients, energize our hardworking staff and encourage new patients to visit the University Hospital campus for their adult cancer care.”

Atweh will reside in Cincinnati with his wife, Josee, and three children.

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